Actor Justin Baldoni's (Jane the Virgin) directorial debut takes a nauseatingly shallow look at a life-shortening genetic disorder and never rises above being a banal teen drama.
Adapted from Rachael Lippincott's bestselling YA novel about two love-struck teens with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), the story revolves around photogenic leads - Haley Lu Richardson and Riverdale's Cole Sprouse - who run the risk of cross-infection if they come closer than six feet apart. The title refers to the foot the pair 'take back' as their romance blossoms.
It's jaw-droppingly mawkish when it should be heartfelt, offensively trivial when it should be poignant, and draining when it should be inspiring.
The screenplay lacks the courage to follow through on its convictions, and goes through endless melodramatic motions and unabashed efforts to throw every trick at you.
More than 70,000 people are living with Cystic Fibrosis worldwide (Ireland has the highest incidence of CF in the world), but the writing duo of Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis skim over the important facts in a desperately engineered attempt to make a sentimental weepy.
The two striking teenage leads generate some decent chemistry and charm but it's hard to develop much empathy for the characters in the eye-rolling finale when everything leading to that point rings emotionally false.
Five Feet Apart might strike the right chord with the cynicism free demographic it is aimed at, but its sugary script won't make the medicine go down for everyone.